Monday, April 16, 2018

My Boy Can Come Home

It probably wouldn't surprise you to hear that back in my days as a heathen, I engaged in heathenish behavior.

Not that I'm proud of any of that or that I'm bragging or giving the devil the glory (as we say when a Christian begins to relate his wretched past).

Just that the fact that I was involved with a young woman is essential to the point of the story.

At any rate, we were about to move into the Old House.

My mom was upset (as she should have been) and complained to my dad about my moving myself and my girlfriend in across the road from Mom and Dad's house.

Now back when I first walked away from the Church, my father had done his best to witness to me, remonstrate with me, advise me that "You should start back going to church."

Finally it came to the point where I looked him in the eye and said, "You know, Daddy, I just don't want to talk about it anymore."

He gazed back at me, nodded his head and that was the last time the subject came up between us.

Did he give up on me then?

If you ever knew my daddy, you would not have to ask that question.

So when the day came when my significant other and I were preparing to move in across the street and Mom drew this to his attention, he simply said:

"Ain't nobody gonna tell my boy he can't come home."

Monday, April 9, 2018

Amazing Love! How Can It Be...

that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me? -Charles Wesley

Sorrow, awe, fear, relief, joy.

We are grateful.

I am grateful.

Thinking on the words of Charles Wesley's hymn, emotions flow from one to the next until they all flow together to fill our hearts to overflowing with gratitude.

I think that whatever love we may experience in this life is only a dim but very precious reminder of the love with which our God has loved us, is loving us, will love us.

Love fades, sometimes, in this earthly plane. It is taken away sometimes with the departure of those who love us. But memories remain to remind us. And to point us to the love that is so amazing it cannot be explained, only experienced.

The love of the Lord endures forever.

Praise be unto Him.

Friday, March 16, 2018

With Long Hair Like Women

I love my dad.

I have many, many fond memories of times spent with him, especially as I grew older and was able to appreciate his life and all the accumulated wisdom that he tried to impart to me.

Like any great teacher, he told stories to teach life's lessons.

Like any obtuse student, I often failed to take his meaning.

I have lots of "Daddy Stories" and enjoy sharing them with whoever will listen.

One of my favorite stories demonstrates his propensity to speak indirectly to a situation and my own tendency to miss the point entirely.

I was a teenager in the mid sixties and like many other "rebels" I was growing my hair out, or rather combing it over my forehead and into my eyes (don't ask me why, it was the sixties). My father hated this and told me a story.

It seems that during WWII, Uncle Peewee (one of the famous "Yankee Uncles") was on leave in San Francisco. During his roamings about the city, he wandered into a bar. And in this bar, according to my dad, were men who had "long hair, like women."

That was the story. Being smarter than my father at the time, I dismissed this story as irrelevant and pointless.

Years later, I recalled it and went, "Heeyyy!"

Not to worry, Father.

I would never hang out in a bar in San Francisco.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

God Answers Prayer

You keep carrying that anger, it'll eat you up inside.-Don Henley

I knew a man once, a brother in Christ. Some of the finest times in my early life in the church were spent in his company.

This fellow had the awful habit of smoking cigarettes. Whenever any of his friends would question him and ask "Why don't you quit this unhealthy habit?" he would always laugh and say "I guess y'all aren't praying hard enough."

Some time later, my friend had a heart attack and some major by-pass action resulted. Nowadays, he is living a more healthy lifestyle which includes "no smoking."

Maybe we didn't pray as hard as we could have, but God does answer prayers.

Recently received joyful news from a dear loved one.

The last time we visited, I was struck by how deeply a Christian person could be sunk into bitterness, resentment and anger. All conversation was poisoned by it and my heart was broken to see this once joyful person drowning in a sea of misery.

I admit that my prayers are sometimes pitiful and my faith weak but  I have seen even that miniscule mustard seed faith move mountains.

So when she called, this past week, I don't have to tell you how overjoyed I was to hear in her voice a restoring of the peace she had lost. She told of a setting-aside of anger, and of a reaching-out to those toward whom she had experienced such bitterness.

She spoke as well of the looks of relief and the relaxing of tension in each one as she sought to mend broken relationships. 

We have been commanded to forgive as we are forgiven.

I'm not sure if it is the hardest command to obey.

But I have seen God use prayer to soften the hardest and most intransigent heart.

I'm praying, Lord, as hard as I can.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

This Be the Verse You 'Grave For Me

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the almighty. -Psalm 91:1

I begin many of my stories these days with this disclaimer: "I may have told you this before...."

We sat in the sanctuary of Grace Pres for Ms. Joycie's funeral service.

Martha Kendall Preuett, a favorite daughter of a favorite friend, sat at the concert grand piano and began to play.

Single notes rang through the room, "Jesus Loves Me." Martha played the simple melody once through then segued gracefully. seamlessly into "In the Cross."

She swayed gently to the music, head back, tears flowing as she played perfectly each song in the medley we had selected, expressing for us all the grief at the loss, the sorrow at the parting.

Joycie's favorite Psalm was the 91st and we had read it several nights before, working our way through the Psalms.

It was our habit to discuss what we had read, but she smiled and said, "You don't have to say anything about this one, I get it."

Bro. Billy preached the 91st for the funeral sermon. At the end he smiled and said, "She got it."


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

This Much

When I survey the wondrous cross...-Isaac Watts

And can it be that I should gain?-Charles Wesley

What Christian could look upon this or meditate on it and not think of God's amazing grace and love?

On the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation, I have been reading the life of Luther, "Here I Stand," by Roland H. Bainton.

You know what stands out the most for me about Luther's life? You might say it is his courage or his faith or his dedication to preaching the Word.

But Luther's fear is the thing that strikes me as I read his story.

His terror of God's wrath that drove him to the monastery. That drove him to mortify his flesh. That compelled him to desperately seek some way, any way to make himself (sinner that he knew himself to be) acceptable to his Holy and Just and All-powerful God.

He finally found it. In Romans 1:17 (the righteous shall live by faith).

Faith alone. And that faith a gift from the God Luther so feared.

We are Luther's heirs. Beneficiaries of the doctrine forgotten for hundreds of years but recovered by Luther and all the other Reformers.

Not much fear of God today, it seems.

Even in His Church, we wink at our sin and even that of others though I will admit that it's easier to give my sin a pass than someone else's.

The hymns I've mentioned speak beautifully of God's amazing love. The love that placed Christ upon the cross in my place and yours.

What it must have been for the Son, eternally loved of the Father to take on my sin and yours, to become the thing the Father hated, to experience the hell of forsakenness.

Psalm 103 speaks of God's steadfast love as well... "to those that fear Him."

Luther was well aware of God's hatred of sin, and finding himself to be a sinner, feared God to the depth of his being.

What would my life look like, what could my witness to the Gospel be if I lived in "reverence and awe" of the living God?

Friday, September 22, 2017

Cotton Fields

They can't dig what they can't use, should just stick to themselves, there'd be much less abuse.- Lynyrd Skynyrd

My music career began when I was 23, on a small stage in the community building in Monroe, AR. I stumped onstage (leg was in a cast you know) and sang "In Them Old Cotton Fields Back Home."

All the recent brouhaha over cotton and images/displays of cotton has caused me to wonder if some of us have too much spare time.

But this is not about that.


Whether your daddy farmed or not, if you grew up in the South (and maybe if you didn't) you have memories of cotton fields.

Some of us picked cotton. Some of us played in the cotton trailers, jumping off the sides to sink waist deep in the white fluffy stuff. Maybe you were one of the folks who pulled over next to a field of cotton and had someone snap your picture while you stood out in the middle of it. We actually had one family knock on our door and ask that we take their picture standing in the field. We did.

And the smell. I can't see a picture of a cotton field without remembering the smell.

One more memory. Maybe my fondest.

Somewhere there exists a picture, taken by my mom, of my three oldest girls and their cousins baled off into a cotton trailer full of cotton. And the expression on their faces is priceless.

How could you not smile at that?